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When I Came Across a Fledgling

When I Came Across a Fledgling
Sometimes an adventure occurs during the most ordinary events of your life.  For example, we will follow young Jake, who walked home from school, just as he does everyday after school, down the street and through the park and onto his house.  Except, this day was a little different than the other 180 days of walking home since this was his last day of the school year.  Jake was understandably excited to arrive home and get started on his summer vacation. He, however, was not quite prepared for the events that would soon take place.

 A bird with sleek and shiny black feathers fluttered and hopped about in the shadows of a very tall redwood tree at the edge of the park.  “That’s a funny bird and why is it hopping around so much?” Jake wondered curiously as he slowed his pace and peered closely.  “I’ll just slow down to make sure the bird is okay?”  “Are you okay?” he asked aloud, then immediately felt silly in case someone heard him.  As he looked closely at the bird, he thought he understood a few things.  He whispered so as not to alarm the bird or look foolish talking to a bird, “You’re a baby crow, aren’t you. I can tell because you can’t fly yet, and your wings and tail are short. But you sure do look like a crow.”  With that conclusion, Jake convinced himself of the fact that this was a fledgling crow that had tried to fly or had fallen out of its nest.  “Oh, no,” he sighed, “did you fall out of your nest? Where is your mom or dad? Where is your nest for that matter? But don’t you worry, I’ll put you back when I find your nest.”

 Finding the fledgling’s nest proved more difficult than Jake could ever imagine.  He walked around the tree from every angle gazing high in the branches, but could see nothing like a bird’s nest. “Well that’s going to be harder than I thought. I can’t even find your nest. Besides, I’ll need a ladder to reach it when I do find it, so I better go home and get some help,” he spoke hoping the fledgling might understand that he was not just abandoning the bird, but going for more help. All the while, the fledgling had been quiet, but continued to flap its little wings and hop about.
 Jake dashed home to find his babysitter, Katy, waiting for him. His words tumbled out as he hurriedly tried to explain where he had been and all about the fledgling bird. Katy, with a smile on her face and with great patience, listened dutifully as Jake told about his plan to save the fledgling using a ladder to put it back in its nest. “You know, Jake, I love birds too, especially baby birds, and it’s wonderful that you care so much about taking care of this little one,” Katy began carefully, “but it probably has a mom and dad who can take care of it better than we can.” A perplexed Jake countered, “But how can they get it back to its nest, how can they feed it? Won’t it die if it doesn’t get back? What if a dog or cat gets it? We have to do something!” “Well, actually Jake,” Katy began, “That’s the best thing we can do for this little bird. We need to just leave it, unless it is injured, or in immediate danger. Did you see any dogs or cats around?” Katy questioned. “No, no dogs or cats, or even any other birds, and the little bird didn’t seem to be injured at all, but I didn’t see any big crows around either, so I thought its parents might not know where it is.” Jake answered in a worried tone. “If it will make you feel better,” Katy offered, “we can go back to the park to see how the little fellow is doing? Would that put your mind at ease a bit?” “Yes,” Jake agreed, “let’s go back and check on it.”

 Off the two went returning to the location where Jake had first spotted his fledgling.  It took Jake a few minutes to actually find the bird. Then, “Oh, look, there it is. Do you see it?  It’s gone over close to the tree,” Jake gleefully blurted grabbing Katy by the arm and pointing excitedly.  Katy was still peering towards the tree, but told Jake, “Quiet for just a minute Jake. Listen, I think I can hear its parents coaxing it back to the nest. If you listen, you will be able to hear them. They sound like they are higher up in the tree.” Sure enough, as they listened, the sound of crows cawing and squawking filled the air from high above their heads. Jake turned with a broad smile at Katy, and said, “That’s got to be the parents. Listen to them. They are so loud. Do you think they want us to move away from their baby? Maybe they are warning the baby or warning us!” Katy nodded, “You are probably right, they might be afraid we will harm the baby. We probably should move a bit further away. I don’t see the parents yet, but they sure must see us.”
 Both Katy and Jake moved several feet away from the tree. “Should we watch and see what happens?” asked Katy. “Yes, for sure,” Jake quickly responded. “I want to see if the fledgling gets back to the nest.”

 There, the two sat in the grass and watched in awe and admiration as the drama of the events unfolded before them. The parent crows, at best, were noisy, demanding and persistent. They perched high in the tree, presumably somewhere near their nest and did not ease up with their incessant squawking. It was an obvious communication to the youngster to keep moving up the tree.   The fledgling flapped its wings for propulsion, climbed with its feet, hanging on by its beak, and managed to ascend a few feet up the truck of the tree. It maneuvered itself precariously onto a low branch. Pleased with its success, it squawked a few times itself as if to say, “I can do this!” At this point, one of the parents swooped down to a nearby branch to offer more encouragement at a closer range, while the other parent high above kept up the racket. The little fledgling glanced up and began its climb again. Using all of its instinctive abilities, its intelligence, and its natural tools, it simultaneously clawed, flapped, and held tight with its beak to work its way up to the next higher branch. As it perched itself gingerly on each branch along the way, a few jerky, wobbling movements gave Jake and Katy a moment of fright. But they sighed a breath of relief, because the fledgling never lost its footing or faith in itself and continued to forge on.   It climbed further and further up the tree, repeating its very clever method, and never losing sight of its purpose.  Most importantly, the parents continued their constant support and cheering, never allowing the fledgling to stop.

 Time seemed to go on forever for Katy and Jake, but they remained transfixed, watching the awkward progress of the small bird, and listening to the racket of the parents. At times, one parent stayed nearby and cawed, while the other stayed high in the tree, and at other times, one would be nearby, then fly high, then return.  After awhile, Katy and Jake could no longer hear the raucous noises of the parents, and they could no longer see the movements of the youngster and its parents. What they could hear sounded like several crows cooing and cackling from above. Also, the sound of leaves rustling from above was apparent.
 Jake looked at Katy and asked, “Do you think the fledgling made it home?” Katy nodded and responded, “Well, it does sound more peaceful, and those are happy noises we can hear now. What do you think?” “I think so, too. And you know what? We learned something today. And we had an adventure! What do you think?” Katy nodded her agreement with that, and ended with a happy high-five.

author: Robin Johnson Goodrich
This text is an entry submitted to the Spring Alive Facebook contest part III.

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